October 28, 2016

By Yashaswini Swamynathan

(Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures were slightly higher on Friday ahead of Exxon and Chevron’s quarterly earnings and a report on gross domestic product.

The U.S. Commerce Department issues the first estimate of GDP for the third quarter at 8:30 a.m. ET. The report is likely to show that the U.S. economy expanded at a 2.5 percent rate.

The University of Michigan will release its final reading of the consumer sentiment index, which likely rose to 88.1 in October.

While the Federal Reserve is not expected to raise rates at its policy meeting next week, analysts expect the central bank to offer more clues on a potential rate hike in December.

Traders have priced in a mere 8 percent chance of a rate hike at the Fed’s November meeting and a 78.3 percent chance of a move in December, according to data from CME Group.

The dollar was hovering close to an 11-week high, while oil prices were marginally lower. [O/R]

Investors will continue to assess corporate earnings in the hope that the third quarter marks the end of a year-long earnings recession as more companies beat expectations.

Profits at S&P 500 companies are expected to rise 2.6 percent, helped largely by financial companies, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. However, energy companies are expected to take a hit.

Wall Street slipped in choppy trading on Thursday as a decline in the consumer discretionary sector and interest-rate sensitive stocks outweighed gains in healthcare names.

Amazon.com <AMZN.O> shares are on track to open at a more than two month low, falling 4.4 percent at $782.50 after the online retailer warned that heavy investment would drag on profits in the holiday quarter.

Google parent Alphabet <GOOGL.O> was up 1.2 percent to $827 after the company’s third-quarter revenue and profit beat analysts’ expectations.

Drug distributor McKesson <MCK.N> plunged 13.1 to $139.50 percent, taking down peer Cardinal Health <CAH.N>, after reporting a revenue in the second quarter that missed expectations.

Baker Hughes <BHI.N> rose 6.8 percent to $58.26 after GE <GE.N> said it was in discussion with the oilfield services provider on potential partnerships.

Futures snapshot at 6:59 a.m. ET:

Dow e-minis <1YMc1> were up 21 points, or 0.12 percent, with 27,934 contracts changing hands.

S&P 500 e-minis <ESc1> were up 2.75 points, or 0.13 percent, with 168,852 contracts traded.

Nasdaq 100 e-minis <NQc1> were up 3.75 points, or 0.08 percent, on volume of 25,214 contracts.

(Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

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